In honor of Mental Health Month, Texas Tech’s Student Counseling Center and the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities discuss the importance of mental health.
Mental health is essential in every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It includes our emotional, psychological and overall social well-being.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, an estimated 26% of Americans 18 years and older, or about 1 in 4 adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.
“I think mental health is a lot like physical health – it's just as important,” said Amanda Wheeler, assistant director for Texas Tech University's Student Counseling Center (SCC). “Mental health is about those emotions and thoughts we have on a daily basis. Sometimes they get a bit overwhelming and maybe you need a little help.”
The SCC is a safe community for all students. It offers a variety of mental health resources, treatments and services to quickly address the concerns of those seeking support.
In a recent survey, the American Psychological Association (APA), identified anxiety as the most common mental health issue among college students, followed closely by depression and relationship problems.
“We do a lot of exercises challenging negative thoughts and teaching people what they do and don't have control over,” Wheeler said. “Reducing anxiety and stress tends to become the No. 1 thing, and so learning how to take moments out of your day to debrief, particularly when feeling overwhelmed, is important.”
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, those between the ages of 18 and 21 who deal with anxiety, stress or depression are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with an eating disorder.
The APA characterizes eating disorders as severe and persistent disturbances in eating behaviors. Often associated with distressing thoughts and emotions, eating disorders can pose profound consequences to a person's overall health by affecting their physical, psychological and social function.
“As a whole, I think not a lot of people know enough about eating disorders or the damages of societal messages,” said Alex Shrode, registered dietitian nutritionist and program director for eating disorders at Texas Tech's Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities (CCRC).
The CCRC offers a nurturing and supportive community to students in recovery for a variety of substance abuse issues and eating disorders. Based on a psychosocial model that captures the resilient and strength-based qualities of recovery, the center allows students to improve as they further their education.
“We have noticed a high correlation between substance abuse and eating disorders,” Shrode said. “This is why we offer students a safe space for support.”
According to Mental Health America, over half of all adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.
“If someone really needs help and you see that, just expressing care and concern is one of the most important things you can do,” Wheeler said.
In addition to the SCC and CCRC, Texas Tech offers additional student wellness resources including Student Health Services, a Psychology Clinic and a Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic. All are available at low or no cost, depending on the requested treatment.
In the event of an emergency, Texas Tech's Crisis Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to any student experiencing suicidal thoughts, mental health crises, sexual assault or interpersonal violence.